CLEVELAND, Ohio — A proposal to privatize the management of the Ohio Lottery Commission was submitted this week to the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission, which researches Ohio's budgets and laws.
Gov. John Kasich, who has yet to name a lottery director, has for weeks been discussing privatizing lottery operations, though he has not made a public commitment to do so.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the administration would not answer questions about any proposal until the state budget is released Tuesday.
As Ohio auditor last year, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor released a performance audit of the $2.4 billion agency that concluded it was well-managed but could be improved if it became a quasi-corporate agency and free of legislative oversight.
She said that if the lottery could obtain a "modicum of exemption from the Ohio Administration Procedures Act," it could better react to the market and implement its games, ultimately generating more revenue.
It's unclear how much of the lottery's operations would be transferred to a private company and what role the state would have in overseeing the lottery.
Kasich himself cannot submit a proposal to the Legislative Service Commission. The commission assists the General Assembly in researching and drafting legislation.
Illinois was the fist state to put a state-run lottery into the hands of a private company, but the move has been complicated by legal challenges in court and bickering among companies that bid to manage the lottery.
The Ohio Lottery, which has about 350 employees, is the only state agency based in Cleveland and is a place known for political patronage by both parties. It's not clear whether the headquarters and the jobs would remain in Cleveland.
The lottery had record sales of $2.48 billion for the 2010 state budget year. The total exceeded the previous year's sales by nearly $70 million. The increase in sales resulted in part from a full year's worth of Keno sales and the addition of a second multistate jackpot game, Powerball.
The lottery's year-end transfer to the Lottery Profits Education Fund totaled $728.6 million, an increase of $26.3 million from last year and the second-highest profit transfer in the lottery's 36-year history.
Since 1974, the lottery has transferred more than $17 billion to the state in support of Ohio education. With the end of the fiscal year, the lottery also had its ninth consecutive year of sales growth and its fifth year of profit increases.